"Stand Firm" (Lessons 1-4)
Peter’s first general letter is one of those rare books where a clear purpose statement is delivered. As with John’s gospel, this purpose statement comes near the end (1 Peter 5:12; John’s is found in 20:31.) That declaration to stand in God’s grace obviously sets the tone for the entire epistle and undergirds Peter’s argument.
"Undaunted" - Annual Theme 2021-22 (Lessons 1-3)
We must fix our eyes on Jesus rather than losing sight of the mission among our many hindrances and snares. We can effectively do so via the simple reminders of 2 Timothy 1:7:
- Don’t fear. Use your superpower!
- Don't hate. Keep loving!
- Don’t settle. Press on!
"Apology Accepted" (Lessons 1-6)
Apologetic discussions rarely lead a person directly to faith in Jesus, though I have experienced exceptions. Regardless, Christian apologetics serve four important functions. Apologetics:
- Can prove very important in pre-evangelism, clearing away lies that get in the way of understanding the gospel.
- Should strengthen the believer’s own grasp of truth and cause him or her to follow Jesus more confidently.
- Foster internal humility as Christians understand current and past failings.
- Promote external peace through growing love for the lost.
"Be Astonished" (Lessons 1-4)
Habakkuk teaches us how to engage with the Lord when our circumstances are painful and wicked. When God’s covenant child really looks at all the filth of this life, he or she is confronted with a genuine problem. Habakkuk teaches us to look more deeply still – where we find the answers to those problems.
"Follow Me" (Lessons 1-10)
In the second half of Mark, Jesus reveals the breathtaking path of discipleship – an immediacy of daily denying self, taking up the cross, and following Him. These requirements for discipleship are all stated in present, continuous tense in Mark’s Greek:
- Deny (ἀπαρνέομαι) means to disavow any connection with one’s own flesh.
- Take up one’s cross, i.e., welcome exposure and minimization.
- Follow Jesus, especially in obedience.
"Wonderful Words" (Lessons 1-8)
December 2020-January 2021
There are a few words that convey a depth of thought distilled by centuries, words on which biblical doctrine is based and through which theology can be understood by all. These terms change lives. In this study we have selected eight such words, choosing those that are both very important and often misunderstood. [Thanks to my teacher, Dr. Pentecost, for his groundbreaking work in this area.]
"Marvel" (Lessons 1-8)
Jesus is revealed as the Glorious One. Along with His apostles, we marvel as Mark introduces us to Jesus as:
Son of Man [c. 1]
Lord of the Sabbath [c. 1-2]
Apostle-sender [c. 3, 6]
Giver of kingdom secrets [c. 4]
Commander of weather [c. 4]
Miraculous healer [c. 5]
Shepherd/provider [c. 6]
Lord of everything – all traditions, foods, peoples, and actions [c. 7]
Messiah [c. 8]
"Wonder" - Annual Theme 2020-21 (Lessons 1-4)
Reverence and awe are required for a life well lived. In fact, scripture unequivocally declares that reverence for the wonderfulness of God is necessary to fulfill our earthly mission. Therefore, God graciously invites us to join Him in a life of wonder.
"Refining Relationships" (Lessons 1-7)
We can learn from and be blessed by others. We can serve, teach, and bless others as well. Yet this positive interaction requires a counter-cultural commitment to humility and wisdom. When humility and wisdom operate in one’s soul: 1) people are loved constantly, 2) we engage and disengage with care, 3) we experience joy, and 4) God is glorified.
"Live And Do" (Lessons 1-8)
Paul writes to the believers in Rome to encourage them to live out the Christian life. This living incorporates what we today call good citizenship and is exemplified through:
Sanctified thought – the great, ongoing, holy conversation with God.
Sanctified action – the unique transformed behavior of Christians.
Sanctified confidence – the certain and pleasant trust in God’s will.
"Creed" (Lessons 1-6)
What we believe determines how we think, what we do, and every other aspect of our character lived out in daily life. As people being shaped by God, nothing is more significant than knowing what and why we believe.
"Beacons Of Hope" (Lessons 1-9)
God reveals to Daniel the events of the future. This truly is, as Dr. Walvoord wrote, the heart of biblical prophecy. Our understanding of the other prophets, epistles, and John’s Revelation hinges on the truth revealed in Daniel 7-12. Studying this text and the attendant passages brings hope, peace, and change. Specifically, we are shaped and purified by studying apocalyptic prophecy.
"Useful" (Lessons 1-7)
God uses some of the most remarkable characters in history to prove the point that rationalization, compromise, pride, and syncretism lead to decay and dismay. Conversely, integrity, courage, humility, and faith lead to blessing and restoration. While this emphasizes the activity of the human in walking in integrity, the real focus is upon God Himself. He is the rewarder of those who seek Him, the One who executes justice in His time. He also is the one who mightily uses those who allow Him to make them useful.
"No Stone Unturned" - Annual Theme 2019-20 (Lessons 1-4)
Paul shows us exactly how we become smooth and useful for God’s work via three big ideas in Colossians 3:16:
1. Read, study, apply, and memorize scripture.
2. Nurture significant relationships in the fellowship.
3. Worship God with gratitude.
"It Takes Work" (Lessons 1-5)
Whatever our occupation and no matter our employment status, God has invited His people to join Him in work. In our work, we should flourish as people and spread blessings to others. We should create value, produce, act responsibly, worship, and build to last.
"Listen" - A Study of Revelation 2-3 (Lessons 1-7)
The seven churches of revelation convict and encourage all Christians and all churches since. We learn about obedience and peace in our ever-faithful Lord. We especially learn to live out the seven commendations given by Jesus. That is, to: love, endure, confess Jesus, work, wake up, keep the word, and open the door to the Lord’s fellowship.
"Joyful Together" - A Study of Philippians (Lessons 1-11)
There are four great ideas that work together in the letter, and they arise from the three most used terms in the book – joy, mind, and Jesus – and a rare construction, συγκοινωνός synkoinonos. The verb and noun form of this construction each appear in Philippians, describing a strong grasp of and commitment to live out Christian fellowship. The Christian can and should have genuine joy in life because his or her mind is trained to dwell on God’s truth. That joy is deepened because of the relationships founded on Jesus.
"Founded On The Rock" - A Study of The Sermon on The Mount (Lessons 1-11)
Jesus calls His followers to an ethic that exceeds anything ever imagined in human history.
"Practice Makes Permanent" - A Study of Proverbs (Lessons 1-5 & 8)
Most of us think like children, assuming that we can live half-heartedly, performing somewhat shoddily in many areas – only to “turn on” a magical switch when important issues are at stake. As high-performing athletes know, this is not realistic. How we practice determines how we perform. Hezekiah’s collection of Solomon’s greatest hits takes a mature approach to life, anticipating great legacies achieved through regular wisdom.
"Build To Last" - Annual Theme 2018-19 (Lessons 1-4)
The very first Christians in the very first church approached this new ekklesia (assembly) with wonder and wisdom. They adopted three important practices that all Christians of all eras should emulate:
1. Devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching; i.e., holding fast to truth.
2. Broke bread as members of the new covenant fellowship.
3. Prayed under the Spirit’s influence (the major context of the passage).
"Restoration" - A Study of Philemon (Lessons 1-4)
God is the Lord of restoration. As His people, Christians are agents of reconciliation. It’s a major part of his we use our powers for good, or in the common parlance, “It’s what we do.” Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus all taste of the refreshment of doing good in this wonderful letter. Further, the epistle calls for more commitment to reconciliation – a strong motivation to modern people in a season of division.
"When Life Hurts" (Lessons 1-7)
God sovereignly guides His people through times of doubt, difficulty, danger, and death. An anthropocentric response to such hurt usually determines that God is thus not God or not good. Tragically, this false perspective:
1. Makes “good” a human determination, effectively eliminating any true standard of goodness.
2. Leads to almost inevitable frustration and bitterness.
3. Limits our understanding and experience to the material world and the brief years of temporal life.
The biblical solution is simply profound: to better know the Sovereign, Triune God; to engage with Him; and as a result, to trust Him more.
"God's Way" - A Study of 1 Corinthians (Lessons 1-7)
God, existing in perfect unity, calls His people to emulation. He shows us that our unity in Jesus is a fact and teaches us to apply that unity in our divisions, our sinful disobedience, our marriages or singlehood, and our moral freedom. The result of living out our unity in Christ is holiness, using our God‐given powers for good. This holiness is expressed through a life of worship – which is the subject of this second part of the book (Ch 11‐16).
"Change Agent" - A Study of Nehemiah (Lessons 1-9)
Christians today find it difficult to do good, much less to maintain the kind of healthy character that allows for genuine goodness. Nehemiah engages us in a life-changing case study where we can grow into similar servants – resolute, prayerful, trustworthy, God-pleasing, and selfless.
"All For One & One For All" - A Study of 1 Corinthians 1-10 (Lessons 1-9)
We live in a fractured age, where anything the purports to unify people is viewed with mistrust and even anger. Such paranoia even exists in our churches – just as it did in Corinth. This letter addresses our problems, breaks our pride, and persistently points us to the unifying solution of following the Triune God.
"Use Your Powers For Good" - We do not grow weary in doing good. (Lessons 1-4)
Christians were for centuries known for doing good things—so much so that the delightfully pejorative term “do-gooder” was often applied to followers of Jesus. As Western culture began to decay, Christians and their churches began to pull away from their biblical calling to good works. The reasons are manifold and fascinating to consider, but the bottom line is that Jesus’ people need to once again rise up and use their considerable powers for good.
We struggle with freedom. We lack it in our daily lives – and not merely because of external factors. Perfectionism, legalism, and selfishness enslave our hearts. When we do battle these slavers, our souls often jump into equally entrapping nonsense like licentiousness, idolatry, or hypocrisy. We desperately need to know how to live as God’s freed people! Galatians was given to expressly meet that need by teaching us how to keep in step with God’s Spirit.
The Protestant Reformation celebrates its 500th birthday in 2017, reminding us that the Reformation was about truth. Discerning and responding to truth was the issue of the day. Here in the 21st century, the world once again needs a reformation as truth is badly skewed. While we had originally planned to discuss the Reformation next fall, we feel compelled to study this now as mounting misunderstanding and misinformation plague people both without and within Jesus’ churches.
People of every age need to experience the “way out” that comes only through God’s gracious hand. The Lord provides freedom for all prisoners who join His people, just as He provided for Israel in the exodus from Egypt. Whatever the struggles of our lives, we can always find a way of conquest by following YHWH and trusting in His name. For Frisco Bible Church in particular, the Exodus and Passover hold particular emphasis during a year when our annual vision is to be more than conquerors.
The world is terribly confused these days. Churches appear to consider biblical doctrine suddenly passé; individual Christians throw lifestyle purity out the window and expect applause; while government and social forces are beginning to align in persecution of God’s people. In such a situation, the words of 2 Timothy act as a lifeline for followers of Jesus.
The qualities of womanhood are powerful blessing to each Christian, family, church, and to a world in desperate need. That need is fascinatingly fueled by a culture that desires the advantages of biblical character yet regularly spews vitriol toward those who exalt it. Thus it is not just Christians who benefit when we study the transformed beauty God crafts in His willing women and men. Society is lifted by this study – especially when we are empowered to exhibit these traits no matter the situation around us.
Life sports serious and difficult battles that make strength and courage requisite for victorious living. Every single one of us is plagued by fears. Every person faces difficult situations. Yet by God's grace, we can be infused with inexhaustible courage. We can face our fears and serve as agents for genuine change.
Our world regularly feels like it is flying apart at the seams. In light of increasing anti-Christian and especially anti-biblical hostility, even Christians wonder if this current mess is part of a plan or not. We question whether the Triune God is genuinely sovereign. With a view to survival, church leadership is bombarded with calls for compromise, particularly on doctrines dealing with the Person of Jesus and definitions of sin. All these questions were brilliantly answered 1900+ years ago when Paul wrote to Colossae from his first Roman imprisonment.
These two books show us a great deal about God and teach us important certainties about relating to Him. Like Jonah and Nahum, we are called to go to our own Nineveh and share the truth of God's Word. Like theirs, our message must contain the fullness of God's mercy and justice. Rather than fleeing this responsibility, we must accept the calling to be salt and light. The Lord has sent us and the world is counting on us.
Our western world is increasingly intolerant of Christianity precisely because it claims to have absolute truth. This certainty angers a world that desires to hide sin under a pretense of malleable ideas that have no value beyond the collective desires of humans. In such an environment it is very important – for both current effectiveness and eternal delight – to remember the solidity of God’s words.
September 2014 (2014-2015 Frisco Bible Church annual theme)
God calls us as His people to a distinctiveness that isn’t insular—far from it! He instead positions His universal Church as a shining light in a world of darkness. But as individual Christians and as local churches, we must regularly search ourselves to make certain that our reflection of God’s glory is clearly shining.